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Exam information

What you need to know about the CCRN

The 150 multiple-choice questions on the CCRN test cover the following areas, in these approximate percentages:

  • Cardiovascular (17%)
  • Respiratory (15%)
  • Endocrine/​Hematology/​Gastrointestinal/​Renal/​Integumentary (20%)
  • Musculoskeletal/​Neurology/​Psychosocial (14%)
  • Multisystem (14%)
  • Professional Caring and Ethical Practice (20%)

Each question begins with a short scenario and asks you to make some sort of decision, as you would in a critical care nursing role, about patient care or other related topics.

The test handbook also lists a broad array of specific things certified nurses must be able to do, and it is assumed these skills will also be tested within the test framework. They are called Testable Nursing Actions.

Note: We provide practice tests, study guides, and flashcards for the adult version of the CCRN test, but there are tests required for pediatric and neonatal critical care certification as well.

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Exam facts

Answers to all your questions about the CCRN

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What are the costs?

The cost for a first attempt at the CCRN test is $250 for candidates who are members of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) and $365 for non-members. If you need to retake the test to pass or you take it for CCRN renewal purposes, the cost will be $175 for AACN members and $280 for non-members.

What should I bring?

To be admitted to the CCRN exam, you must provide two forms of identification. The first must display your photo and signature. The second must show your printed name and signature. If you take the paper and pencil version of the test, special pencils will be provided for marking answers. Any notes you take during the exam must be turned in before you exit the exam room. There is no eating, drinking, or smoking in the test site and any breaks are part of your testing time.

How is it scored?

It is highly recommended that you take the online version of this test. In doing so, you will have your score immediately after you finish testing. Paper-and-pencil test results take six to eight weeks to arrive.

To pass the CCRN, there’s a specific number of questions you must answer correctly, called the cut score. This number can change based on the exam’s updates or difficulty. It’s different from the pass rate, which shows how many people actually pass the exam. On the adult CCRN exam, you will need to answer around 83 out of 125 scored questions to receive a passing result.

What kind of job can I get?

Providing care to critically ill patients necessitates a higher level of expertise. Holding a CCRN certification affirms your capability for such roles, positioning you for employment opportunities that demand these specialized skills. These positions can encompass the care of adult, pediatric, or neonatal patients. Critical care nurses are sought after in diverse settings, including:

  • Emergency room

  • Flight/transport care

  • Remote locations

  • Trauma centers

Am I eligible?

To take the CCRN test, you must have:

  • A current, unencumbered U.S. RN or APRN license
  • A set amount of accumulated hours of actual practice with critically ill patients (with verification)

There are also renewal options. Specific details about all requirements can be found in the the CCRN Exam Handbook.

Why does it matter?

A general goal of the medical community is to employ only certified nurses in each field, and critical care is a vital area for coverage with opportunities for employment in many situations and locations. You are much more likely to obtain your choice of position and feel competent performing your job if you are critical-care certified.

What salary can I expect?

Critical care nursing is one of the top seven nursing specialties in terms of income, with a median annual salary of $100,000, compared to the median salary for RNs, which is about $81,000.

When is it available?

The CCRN test is available at 300 AMP testing centers nationwide. Registration is done online and appointments can be cancelled or rescheduled up to 48 hours before your test date.

How much time is allowed?

The CCRN (adult) test is about three hours long and contains 150 questions.

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